Flac vs DSD: Which is the Best Audio Format in 2023?

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There is no doubt about the superiority of FLAC and DSD audio formats. Both of them perform exceptionally in their own ways. They are the front-runners in the race for lossless audio formats. Many claim that the tussle between Flac and DSD is somewhat like WAV/PCM vs. SACD/DFF/DSF. but it is not quite the same.

Both of them might be lossless audio formats, but there are certain differences that set them apart. Today we are going to settle that very debate.

Read on to find out which one is the better audio format: Flac or DSD?

Comparison table: Flac vs DSD





Free Lossless Audio Codec

Direct Stream Digital

File extension




Pulse code


Size Compression

FLAC lossless

DST lossless

Digital to Analog Converter

Filter and sigma-delta modulator

Only filter

Bit depth

Multi-bit (up to 24)

Single or 1-bit

Sample rate

Up to 384 kHz

From 2.8 MHz

Useful audio range

20 Hz to 24 kHz

Sample rate/2

What is Flac?

FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) is both an audio format container file and a data compression method for sound recording or streaming.

It is known for its unwavering audio quality, even after 60% compression. Flac is ideal for storing large audio files. Since it has open-source code, users can encrypt their files and also patent them.

What is DSD?

Sony and Philips provide high credibility and legitimacy to DSD (Direct Stream Digital). It was initially designed and used for Super Audio CD (SACD).

But over the years, it has become more useful as a computer-based audio format. DSD is characterized by its excellent audio quality, making it ideal for storing and playing back. Being one of the best lossless audio formats with high resolution, it is a favorite for authentic audiophiles.

What are the differences between Flac and DSD?

  • Even though both Flac and DSD are amazing lossless audio formats, the difference is very marginal. Especially when you listen to certain Classical and Jazz numbers, the detailing that DSD provides cannot go unnoticed.
  • The difference in sampling rate between DSD and Flac is something that overshadows the latter when it comes to its audio quality.
  • When compared to DSD, the file size of Flac is way smaller. Some may claim that this is an unfair advantage that Flac enjoys. DSD was not originally designed for compression but rather for analog media (CD). Since Flac has been famous for its incredible compression capabilities, it edges out DSD. The quality aspect remains the same. So, if you are planning on storing your DSD files from a CD on your computer, converting them to Flac will be the right way to go about it.
  • While Flac supports metadata and is free-source and royalty-free, DSD does not support metadata and is not royalty-free.
  • It is very easy to decode and quickly stream Flac. This is not possible with DSD files.
  • Other than being the perfect digital audio format for storage, Flac is also transcoding-friendly. For instance, converting Flac to MP3 is a suitable choice for playback on portable devices. DSD does not provide such flexibility in terms of transcoding and conversion.
  • In the case of a one-album music file, Flac comes with cue files that enable users to split it into separate tracks. Once again, you cannot do that with DSD album files.


The comparison between Flac and DSD is an interestingly close one. When it comes to authenticity and naturalness in the audio quality, DSD is the best of the two, hands down. But that’s about it. DSD loses crucial points when it comes to user-friendliness and utility.

Flac swoops in to emerge victorious by being one of the best compressed audio formats. It is ideal for storage in large volumes without scaling down its quality. And last but not least, the compatibility of Flac ranges across various platforms and devices, thereby making it a clear winner.

Jennifer Max


Hi, I’m Jennifer I’m a passionate singer and an audiophile from Detroit, MI. 

I’m on a mission to help music creators to create fine music that help them position uniquely in the saturated music space.

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